Keep fervent in your love for one another. . . . Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
–1 Peter 4:8-10
We had a Sunday school teacher at our church one time who was gone as often as he was here. We gently approached him and said, “Your class is dwindling. You are hardly ever here.” He said, “That’s legalism. You can’t hold me to any kind of standard because I’m under grace.”
Grace should not only impact our thinking about church membership; it ought to impact our thinking about attendance. And people who use grace as an excuse to miss church as often as they are here miss two simple principles you find in the Bible about our attendance in church.
First of all, we have a responsibility toward other people. Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” we need to ask, “What difference does it make to others?” Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.”
The only way you can encourage other Christians and motivate them to love and good deeds is to be next to other Christians. That is why we come together. When you are not at church, you are not able to motivate or encourage anybody. In fact, your absence is a discouragement to other Christians. Have you ever walked into a church that was two-thirds empty? Did that make you want to come back? When you are not present in church, there is one less voice praising God in song. There is one less prayer being offered at the throne of grace. There is one less person exercising his spiritual gift in to encourage other believers. There is one less person sitting under the teaching of God’s Word who will go out and transform the world. Your presence, or lack thereof, impacts other people.
Second, we need to think about our responsibility toward ourselves. Coming to church is not just for other people’s benefit; it is for our own spiritual health. In Colossians 2, Paul talked about the fact that before grace, we were under the Old Testament restrictions about diet, dress, and everything you could not do on the Sabbath day. Now we have been freed from those things, but many people have thrown out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to worship. There is a principle that transcends both the Old and New Testaments, and that is we need to gather together regularly for worship for our own spiritual health. That is what good grace teaches. Your presence at church makes a difference, both in your life and in the lives of others.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Churches” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org